Broadie fish­ing 101

NZ Fishing News - - News -

I first fished for broad­bill three years ago, when one of my mates asked if I wanted to give it a try. So ‘Lit­tle Miss Never Caught a Mar­lin Let Alone A Sword­fish’ said, “Yeah, let’s do it!”

Hit­ting the wa­ter at the crack of dawn meant that we were able to spend max­i­mum time soak­ing our baits. The first hit came not long be­fore 9am on our sec­ond drop, with the line go­ing slack – a typ­i­cal broad­bill bite. But de­spite wind­ing my butt off, I couldn’t match the speed of this fish. The line was still an­gling straight down when a mas­sive broad­bill sud­denly burst up onto the sur­face and started wind­screen-wip­ing, not 50 me­tres to our port side. Jed and I looked at each other and screamed to­gether, “IT’S A SWORD!”

Same as sail­fish and mar­lin, sword­fish have the abil­ity to turn their stom­achs in­side out, en­abling them to get rid of the spines, beaks, bones and teeth of the prey con­sumed, and it’s also how they deal with baited hooks. Sword­fish bat­tles of­ten end this way, and that’s what hap­pened to us.

Dis­ap­pointed but ex­cited, we dropped an­other bait down, and on the de­scent the line took off and then went slack – we were on again! So I wound fu­ri­ously once more, but that sword spat the bait as well.

It was hours be­fore we had an­other bite, which we’d agreed Jed would wind in. It took only min­utes for the very green fish to re­veal it­self – jump­ing un­com­fort­ably close to the out­board.

While I was grab­bing the gaff, Jed took hold of the leader, but by the time I got back the fish had gone un­der the boat and was jump­ing on the other side. Sec­onds later saw it back un­der the boat again, be­fore jump­ing and land­ing on top of the elec­tric wind­lass, where it be­came tem­porar­ily stuck. Then, af­ter swing­ing back and forth a few times, it spat the bait and splashed back in, never to be seen again.

This was one of those mo­ments when you look at each other and just crack up laughing. If Jed hadn’t been there to wit­ness it with me, I would have ques­tioned what I’d just seen.

What an in­tro­duc­tion to sword fish­ing – but, sadly, it’s not al­ways this way.

I won’t bore you with the days we spent star­ing at the rod for hours on end and caught noth­ing. Let’s be hon­est, ev­ery­one has days like that, and we cer­tainly had our share.

More lessons learned

It was an ab­so­lute pearler of a day and the wa­ter was dark and smooth like vel­vet. It looked like the per­fect time for a sword­fish hunt, so we dropped our bait into the depths and waited with an­tic­i­pa­tion. A few hours later the line started tick­ing slowly off the reel, as sub­tly as an ele­phant eat­ing a peanut, and not what you’d ex­pect from such an ag­gres­sive beast, but it’s how they can bite at times.

The hook-up was typ­i­cal of a broad­bill, and it soon came up to see what was go­ing on. How­ever, within 30 min­utes it turned into a purely ver­ti­cal fight, the stub­born fish hold­ing below the boat at 40 me­tres. So I threw my Shi­mano Ti­a­gra into the slower ‘granny gear’ and wound in ev­ery cen­time­tre I could, but the fish al­ways took back ev­ery one I gained.

Broad­bill of­ten cir­cle deep down, so we were mak­ing dra­matic turns with the boat to keep my line away from the hull. At one point, the fish ran un­der the boat and al­most pulled me over­board. I tried my hard­est to keep the line away from the boat, but un­for­tu­nately it rubbed, and snap went the line, send­ing me fly­ing across the cock­pit.

By this stage, I had done per­haps 50 hours worth of sword­fish re­search, spo­ken with nu­mer­ous sword-fish­ing leg­ends and seen more than 10 swords face to face. How­ever, de­spite not catch­ing a sin­gle one, we didn’t lose faith.

Close but no cigar

We set out for a big day on the wa­ter with my cam­era crew in tow, not for a mo­ment imag­in­ing the sort of day it would turn out to be.

We had nu­mer­ous hits on our baits, but waited un­til one was well and truly eaten be­fore re­ally crank­ing and hook­ing-up.

One hour and 45 min­utes later we man­aged to get the sword to the sur­face – and it was a beauty, its girth blow­ing Jed’s and my minds upon rolling boat-side. As for the length, the bill was close to the driver’s win­dow and its tail reached my 7.3m Stab­i­craft Su­per­cab’s tran­som, so you do the math!

That’s when we knew that we weren’t go­ing to be able to get this fish with just the two of us and our cam­era­men. So we called on some mates fish­ing close by, and Matt jumped on­board to help. We all watched as the huge fish swam away from us on the sur­face, its gi­gan­tic tail push­ing wa­ter two me­tres to the left and then two me­tres to the right.

If you saw this par­tic­u­lar episode, you might re­mem­ber the look on my face when the hook pulled with the fish on the leader. The IGFA would class that as a caught fish, but to me it felt like a huge loss. Look­ing back on it, we should have stuck a tag in it and cel­e­brated ‘cap­tur­ing’ a 260kg-plus sword. Hind­sight is a won­der­ful thing.

Grad­u­a­tion day

A new day pre­sented new sword-fish­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties, so off we went again. Around 11am our bait was fi­nally in­haled, and I had a feel­ing this was the one, es­pe­cially as we’d brought a se­cret weapon with us on this trip: Jed’s dad Paul Radz.

Thank heav­ens we had Paul on board. He re­minded us to keep calm and not rush it. I had men­tally set my­self up to fight this fish for six hours, and any­thing short of that would be a bonus. The first hour went by re­ally fast and I was so de­ter­mined not to let this fish win. Salted Caramel Tim Tams kept me go­ing!

Then hour two passed by and I could feel the har­ness sys­tem re­ally start­ing to cut into my flesh. I had to tell my­self, ‘Nicky, this is ex­actly what you trained for and wanted.’ Those months of squats at the gym were fi­nally prov­ing their worth!

It was a tug of war where each of us had five-minute turns. I would work hard, fill­ing up the spool, and then the fish would make a big run and leave me lean­ing back wait­ing for it to fin­ish. There were times where the fish would run for 600m at a time and then I’d wind it all back in and we’d start again.

Then, af­ter three hours the fish be­came a dead weight, and I was able to wind it all the way to the boat. Turned out it was foul hooked in the stom­ach, so I’d been winch­ing it in back­wards. Sword­fish have in­cred­i­bly soft flesh, so if I’d muscled that fish with too much drag, I prob­a­bly would have lost it.

Get­ting the bleed­ing fish into the boat took half an hour; mean­while I watched and prayed a shark wouldn’t join us for a meal. Then, with the fish se­cured, we went to see what it would weigh. We thought around the 150-160kg mark, so when it tipped the scales at 199kg we were all blown away.

I had al­ways told my dad that when I caught a broad­bill worth mount­ing, I’d do so and give it to him. Keep­ing my prom­ise, the front half of the fish is now mounted on my dad’s wall.

Up­ping the ante

The next sword story is prob­a­bly the most in­ter­est­ing one of all. I was lucky enough to go fish­ing with Mr Red Gill Lures him­self, Nathan Adams. Hav­ing caught a world record Pa­cific bluefin tuna and the big­gest black mar­lin ever off the west coast, as well as tag­ging and re­leas­ing seven swords in one day dur­ing this year’s Na­tion­als, Nathan is a liv­ing leg­end and I couldn’t wait to hit the wa­ter with him.

No­body likes a spoiler though, so I’ll let you wait for the episode in Sea­son Three – it’s a day that’s imprinted in my brain for­ever!

To check out the new sea­son of Ados Ad­dicted to Fish­ing, tune in to Prime TV at 5pm Saturdays, or go to our Youtube chan­nel to view any pre­vi­ous episodes for free.

In par­tic­u­lar, if you’d like to see our sword­fish episode from last sea­son, go to and search Ados Ad­dicted to Fish­ing Sea­son 2 Episode 13.

Add us on Face­book www.face­­dict­edtofish­ingnz, visit­dict­edtofish­ or check out and search ‘Ados Ad­dicted to Fish­ing’.

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